Photo by Jacqui Damasco

How fun it is to watch the workings of the Universe!

I posted my last entry in the wee hours of the morning. That same evening I went to teach a class and received a gift from one of the class participants – a beautiful little plaque with a dove holding an olive branch and the word PEACE. Then I came home that night to find the following link in my email: .

Winter Feast for the Soul is a 40-day commitment to 40 minutes of daily practice. Anything that works for you – yoga, tai chi, meditation, prayer. You can do it on your own or you can do it with a group. I’m hoping if people are interested we can get a group together in Chicago to support each other.

I’m also curious about how folks are weathering the holidays. I’ve already heard people say how stressed they are. For some people it’s the day itself and being around all those family members who you allow to diminish your peace. For others it’s the lead up and all that has to get done.

The older I get is the more I recognize these moments as opportunities to practice. I can notice my heart closing and encourage my body and mind to soften. I can recognize myself blaming the other person for my state and recognize that I am solely in control of my reactions to anything, or anyone… I can notice myself rushing to judge and stop long enough to wonder – is that which I despise in another also present in me? And I can take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the lights; the thrill of people thinking about what gift would make their loved ones happy, or how to help those less able to give; the joy my kids from decorating the tree and my 3 year old’s delight in seeing Santa. Even the joy I get from seeing the snow when I’m inside and grateful for a warm place to be.

Sometimes this is fascinating stuff – other times, not so much. I’ve been known to be a Christmas Grinch when judgment and cynicism get the better of me (usually the week before Christmas when my shopping is nowhere near complete). At any rate I’m glad to have this lifetime to work on it all and my breath and body to give me clues. Mostly I’m grateful for my yoga practice, for my teachers – in body and Spirit – who have shared their knowledge and their hearts with me. Thank you! This Life lived consciously can be such an amazing experience.

So please, post comments and let me know how you’re weathering this holiday season. Maybe your methods or insights could be helpful to someone else…

Be well! Be warm!!

Peace begins with me

bfly_tithonia1I’ve been thinking a lot about this notion of peace and what it would take for there to be a more peaceful world. Ghandi said we should “be the peace” we want to see in the world. Osho (the “Spiritually Incorrect Mystic”) said that only when all people were “pools of silence” would there be peace in the world.

So what does this mean to “be the peace” or even to be a “pool of silence?” When I meditate I have an idea of what this is – not from a mind space, but from some place deeper. When I meditate consistently I can feel this “pool of silence” as an enduring awareness that permeates every moment.  My emotions even out and I can handle the craziness of life a little better, with a lot less drama. Doesn’t mean I’m perfectly peaceful –  just more peaceful than my otherwise “normal” state.

So this all has me thinking – what would happen if we each became a little more peaceful? Just a little more.  Because really, when we talk about peace, as Ghandi and Osho said, we are essentially talking about people become peaceful, right? So the only way that’s going to happen is if we each become peaceful – each one of us. We can spend a lot of time working on promoting peace outside of ourselves, but if we continue our own lives of stress and dis-ease, aren’t we still contributing to the deficit?

We talk a lot about stress relief and stress reduction and addressing the stress in our lives. Are we really trying to be less stressed? Or do we really just want to be more at peace? When we say “less stress” the focus is on stress. When we say “more peace” the focus is on peace. I choose “more peace.”

For certain I know that I’m not going to become a pool of silence overnight – you only need to be in my house at bedtime to know what I’m up against – but I can choose to be a little more peaceful starting today. I can do my meditation practice and my yoga practice today.  I can be less reactive and less judgemental tomorrow.  Before I loose my temper I can choose to remember that the person being difficult on the phone has the same spark of life and the same right to be here as I do.  When I become annoyed at the faults in others I can choose to forgive and to recognize that I may actually have those same faults.  And I can be gentler with myself.

I once had the good fortune to be about ten feet away from the Dalai Lama. Before he even entered the room we felt that he was there. The memory of that feeling still chokes me up.   I wish I could explain it in words, but nothing would quite capture it.  It was as if suddenly I knew that all would be well – I couldn’t feel negativity toward myself or anyone else. Like a deep sigh of satisfaction in the arms of someone who loves you.

I’ve also had the good fortune of being in the presence of everyday people whose presence is calming. In some way they have also managed to become that pool of silence. Their presence might not have as dramatic an effect as the Dalai Lama, but just by being in a room with them I feel myself becoming more peaceful.  They don’t have to do or say anything to have that effect, it is just part of who they are, and it creates a ripple effect.  If we all could cultivate that quality of peaceful presence – what an amazing world this would be. We would help each other to be more peaceful, more calm, more content, more joyful. I don’t think it would be that hard really, just one small choice to be a little more peaceful – today.

Would you join me? Would you make the commitment today and each day to do one small thing toward “being the peace” you’d like to see in the world?